Toddler Herding: A Practical Guide

children-402166_1920Owners of toddlers will inevitably find themselves engaged in the difficult and noble art of toddler herding. Toddler herding is not for the faint-hearted, and should only be undertaken by trained professionals. The following rules must be heeded at all times.

1. The aim of toddler herding is to get one or more toddlers to the correct location and, preferably, trap them there.

2. Like cattle, toddler herds will stampede if herded wrongly, spooked, or just because they feel like it.

3. Unlike sheep, toddlers are not followers. Toddler herds will typically scatter in multiple directions.

4. The use of dogs to herd toddlers is not recommended. Dogs are not up to the task, and will usually find themselves herded, cornered and poked by the toddlers instead. Alternatively, the dogs will join in the toddler stampede.

5. Whistles tend to excite the toddler herd. Typically, the toddlers will briefly return in order to attempt to snatch the whistle. Having either seized the whistle or accepted failure in obtaining the whistle, the toddler herd will immediately scatter again.

6. The first method of toddler herding is to tell the toddlers where you want them to go. This will not be successful.

7. From this point, gentle guidance should be attempted, in the form of hand holding. This has a maximum success period of 30 seconds before a break for freedom will be made. In the case of two toddlers, one toddler will hold hands as instructed. The other toddler will run in the most unsuitable direction possible. The toddler who was holding hands will break free during the attempt to retrieve the other one. She will run in the opposite direction to that taken by the first toddler. In fact, it is not usually possible to be in possession of more than one toddler at a time. This is a major problem with toddler herding.

8. If a successful method of temporarily rounding up the toddler herd is found, such as by using a whistle, there is an opportunity to use a difficult, advanced technique, known as the grab. The grab can only be implemented on one toddler. If you are herding multiple toddlers, you will need to pick one, and let the others go. Some people may suggest picking your favourite but, for the reasons that follow, it is best to pick the smallest. The grab is a risky and dangerous manoeuvre. Toddler herds are slippery and wriggly. Upon initial grabbing, the toddler is likely to scream and yell as though being tortured. Should you hold on despite fears of the imminent arrival of Social Services, the grabbed toddler will turn to violence and writhing. Ultimately, the captive toddler will resort to The Plank.

9. Stragglers are common in toddler herding. In fact, it is not unusual for all toddlers present to be stragglers, and none to actually be in the herd.

10. Following the abject failure of all herding techniques attempted, only two options will remain. The first is to simply leave the toddlers behind and see whether they have any homing skills. The second, and more acceptable and widely used, method is to lure the toddlers into pushchair/house/cage with a trail of chocolate/raisins. Those with some experience of toddler herding tend to employ this technique from the outset.

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  1. I loved the trail of raisins revenue Hun. This is spot on but I would argue not actually restricted to toddlers after my recent school outing! The use of a whistle is Perfect but you are right the initial interest wears off. I have a colleague who uses a singing bowl! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

  2. Ellen says:

    Ahaha I love it. I am not quite an owner of a toddler just yet but I shall start stocking up on raisins for future herding techniques. So funny as always! #stayclassymama

  3. MMT says:

    Ha! Were you watching me in Morrissons yesterday? Cursing the moment I decided to leave the buggy in the boot as I only needed one birthday card. A box of cereal, a plant and some birthday presents later I ran so fast after the mouse I realised I’d left Tigs looking at the dresses! Luckily one of my kids is sensible and sometimes a better parent than me, she knew how to lure mouse all the way home…
    Thanks for joining us at #coolmumclub xx

  4. I grew up on a farm and occasionally had to get the cows in for milking. At least they were compliant. It Was easier than getting my two kids home yesterday arvo with no stroller or treats. All so true. #FridayFrolics

  5. James Hopes says:

    Loved this one! We’ve only got one toddler so far but even herding him is akin to wrestling a crocodile into a washing machine. Not that I do that often. #FridayFrolics

  6. Emma says:

    Hahaha, I always use the chocolate to herd, I run ahead whilst throwing chocolate back over my shoulder at random intervals. Works everytime, even for the husband 😉 #FridayFrolics

  7. Saffy says:

    Pretending to leave usually worked for me! Bye….Bye….Mummy is going noe…Bye….!!!” Well, I use “usually” in the hardly never sense. #FridayFrolics

  8. Davina says:

    I took my kids to the beach on my own once. The second I let F out of the stroller, he made a break for it at the exact same moment that O pelted off in the opposite direction. This, amongst many and various other things that happened during the outing, is one of the reasons why I have not taken the kids to the beach by myself since then. What was I thinking? I’m not cut out for that shit! #fridayfrolics

  9. “It is not normally possible to be in possession of more than one toddler at a time”: Needs to be printed on a T shirt or something. Never has a truer phrase been uttered. Brilliant as always 🙂 x #coolmumclub

  10. Neither of my kids shows the slightest bit of interest when I pretend to leave the vicinity….probably because they’ve seen the idle threat more than once! And oh yes, the planking toddler….I have a right planker in my house (who I adore in case you were going to call the NSPCC!). #stayclassymama

  11. I need to practice my toddler herding skills. If I take my eyes off mine for even a second, she’s running off and getting into God knows what. I literally can’t imagine trying to herd more than one at a time. #fortheloveofBLOG

  12. wendy says:

    Hahaha. .you had me from the start with ‘owners of toddlers’. My method of hearding is bribery with every time xx #TheList

  13. I love this. I actually laughed out loud! Your opening ‘toddler owners’ is great and my particular favourite: ‘it is not usually possible to be in possession of more than one toddler at a time.’ ?
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Emma says:

    haha I have ONE toddler and just rounding him up is a challenge. goodness knows how anyone with more than one copes. nightmare! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday 🙂

  15. Kaye says:

    Oh gosh, I’m going to have my own toddler herd soon and I’m terrified! I’m already crap at herding just the one anywhere, let alone 2 of them! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  16. The Pramshed says:

    You sound like you have your hands full! I love the last point that raisins and snacks will help to lure them, I use this technique with my 11 month old daughter, to get her to keep playing whilst I’m working at home on a Monday. I’ll take note of your tricks to avoid dogs and whistles once my little girl is a little older. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  17. What a good thing I’ve only got one! Herding our way OUT of the park is a particularly tough one. The distraction technique and bribery with biscuits can sometimes work, slightly. Or not very much! #KCACOLS

  18. Ha ha. Brilliant. I think this applies to all children in general. I often end up walking up to 7 kids home from school aged between 4 and 10. I feel like a goat herder and a donkey (as I end up carrying most of their bags too). Sarah #FabFridayPost

  19. David Mellor says:

    Haha this is brilliant! We have two under 3 years old so can definitelty identify with these herder problems. We also have a black Labrador who, as you describe, either ends up being poked or joining them.
    Potty Adventures

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